By Ana Theresa Williams,BSN,RN
Every woman has the right to be protected, and getting health treatments to prevent cancer is one of her needs.
The Department of Health (DOH)-Region 11 together with the City Health Office, Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society (POGS), and MSD is celebrating the month of May as Cervical Cancer Consciousness month with this year’s theme “Babae, Mahalaga Ka! Magpa-screen…Now na” at the Almendras Gym in Davao City. It was a whole day affair and about 1,000 mothers and women were expected to register for free VIA or Visual Inspection using Acetic Acid. As of 11:15 a.m. yesterday 113 women had their free VIA.
VIA is the alternative for Pap-smear, although the latter is still the standard annual procedure to have every woman checked for any abnormalities in their cervix like cancer, POGS-11 Regional Director Dr. Vina Lim said.
POGS BOT and SPMC Department of Obstetrics-Gynecology chairperson Dr. Helen Grace Te Santos said all OB-Gyne doctors, midwives and nurses are equipped and trained to do this procedure especially at SPMC.
Dr. Santos said this type of screening should be done regularly and not just now that it’s offered free by different stakeholders.
City Health Officer Dr.Josephine Villafuerte said VIA is good for the mothers. This is the least “we can give once a year as we offered something good for their health particularly when it comes to their cervix”.
Meanwhile, Gyne-Oncologist Grace Quirapas Madis,MD said whether Pap smear or VIA this should be regularly done once a year.
Dr. Madis said that one cannot simply get cancer of the cervix from your parents’ genes, but rather through the type of lifestyle that you have.
“Cervical cancer is developed 10 to 15 years, that’s why Stage 1 can be opened and checked but not stage 2. Therefore, early detection is being encouraged,” she said.
She said early stage cervical cancer is difficult to detect. Don’t wait when there is blood already and smells bad in your vagina, she said.
Cancer cells have lots of protein that’s why when adding acid into it will turn to color white if you’re positive with cancer, the medical expert said.
Most of the women, ages 21 and above, had their first VIA at Almendras gym. Some of them who had VIA also didn’t have any pap smear test.
Cervical cancer continues to be a widespread public health problem throughout the world because access to screening and treatment of pre-cancerous lesions is not widespread.
Worldwide, successful cervical cancer prevention is based on an organized screening program like through pap smear or cervical cytology (the gold standard for cervical cancer screening) and well organized screening programs in developed countries have resulted in a large decline in cervical cancer incidence and mortality.
Recent studies have demonstrated the potential of Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) as an alternative test to Pap smears in the identification of cervical lesions. “VIA is the alternative for Pap Smear especially in low resource setting without access to a pathologist, to cover a large number of women for cervical cancer screening,” POGS national president Dr. Mayumi Bismark said.